Updated: June 5, 2021 8:29:13 am
The Delhi High Court has observed that the State or its agencies cannot cite financial constraints or the impact of the pandemic as a ground for dispensing with the services of its employees. It is the bounden duty of a welfare State to secure the rights of livelihood of the citizens, the court said.
Justice Jyoti Singh made the observations while ordering the reinstatement of a number of pilots whose resignations were accepted by government-owned Air India last year—despite their withdrawal by the officers prior to the acceptance. The court also held them to be entitled to back wages. Air India had argued that the acceptance of resignations was completely justified as it has been reeling under financial distress for a number of years.
The court said a resignation tendered by an employee indicating a prospective or a future date from when the resignation is to take effect can be withdrawn any time before it is accepted, in the absence of anything to the contrary in the rules or terms and conditions of service.
“It is held that financial crunch cannot be a relevant consideration in deciding the issue of acceptance of resignations. Be it ingeminated that when the legal position on acceptance of resignation is so well settled, as noted above, it was futile for the Respondent to base its decision on the alleged losses it has been suffering and continues to suffer, on account of Pandemic Covid-19,” the court said.
The court also noted that the Preamble of the Constitution resolves to secure to all its citizens justice and equality. “… and every State action must be aimed at achieving this goal. The Constitution does not envisage or permit unfairness or unreasonableness in State actions in any sphere of its activity,” it added.
The court further said there is a mechanism in law that enables an employer to deal with the services of its employees in the wake of an established financial crunch. “An action can certainly be taken, following due process of law in that regime,” the judgement reads, adding however there is nothing on record that the alleged financial crunch in Air India would be impacted merely by the continuation of the petitioners.
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